What are your dreams for aging gracefully? Do you believe that getting older has to hurt? Are you being told to slow down or take it easy by your primary care? Many of the clients I have worked with come to me when they start enjoying more time with Grandkids and want to be able to move and play with them. I don’t think pain should be an association with old age. In fact, I am a firm believer that age is just a number, and we are only as old as we act. Below are 5 reasons to start exercising in your later years.
Restore your central nervous system by focusing on your breath. As you age, your brain and nervous system go through natural changes. Your brain and spinal cord lose nerve cells and weight (atrophy). Nerve cells may begin to pass messages more slowly than in the past. Waste products can collect in the brain tissue as nerve cells break down. Breakdown of nerves can affect your senses. You might have reduced or lost reflexes or sensation. This can lead to problems with movement and seemingly natural motor skills. This is why all of my clients are given specific breathing drills to help reset the nervous system and aid in the communication of brain signals to muscle tissues.
Exercise and fitness is good for your brain! The growth of new brain cells continues well into your 50s and 60s — and the capacity to learn new things stays strong. MRIs show that adults who exercise regularly have a bigger hippocampus (the brain region responsible for memory and learning), which helps keep the mind sharp. I play games with tennis balls and other props at the gym that help with my client's hand-eye coordination and motor learning skills. Games like these are fun and we often laugh at the silliness, which is beneficial to the brain as well since it releases endorphins.
Joint health is just as crucial to maintaining muscle mass and reduced body fat. Arthritis is the most common type of joint problem in older people. It usually affects knees, hips, hands, spine, or sometimes shoulders. Aging and inactivity can lead to achy joints because of the wearing down of cartilage, the loss of lubricating joint fluid and weaker muscles. But that is where daily movement of these joints can help to pain levels. Many of my clients say their goal is to be more flexible and regain balance. Focusing on the feet first can be a great start to achieving this. Your feet are the first thing to taking the next step and often other issues in joints above the ankle can be solved by making sure the big toe is working correctly. Mobility issues can lead to falls in elderly getting fractures but I believe with an excellent program that is tailored to your specific needs can help reduces or prevent this issue.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people 65 or older. Many experts suggest that cardiovascular exercise cuts the risk. When you are moving quickly and start getting your heart rate to elevate this helps reduce the stiffness of the heart valves that typically occurs as a result of inactivity. But even more important is the research pointing to vigorous exercise. Getting the heart rate into a zone just above aerobic capacity causes lactate to form and is what helps produce strength and power. I love incorporating short bursts of strong movements for my clients so that we can push the heart rate zone higher. This in turn also gets people to sweat more profusely which helps utilize the lymphatic system. Stimulating the lymph is what allows us to release toxins and waste that our cells don’t need which again helps to slow the aging process.
Hormones and aging: Resistance training that involves moving your body through its different patterns and ranges of motion against a force (ie weight machines) or using resistance with tension (ie elastic bands and cable machines) builds muscle as well as helps promote maintenance of muscle mass .Even some bodyweight exercises like pushups or pullups is a natural way to promote testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) release in the body. Keeping testosterone and HGH plentiful will dramatically slow down the effects of aging. Since the natural process of aging involves the metabolism slowing down and eventually breaking down proteins -The more muscle mass you have later in life becomes a major pillar to longevity and aging gracefully
Whether you have been doing resistance training since your college days or are just now looking to get started, you will likely get a lot more miles out of your ticker and keep aches and pains to a minimum as you continue to age if you remember that your muscles matter. The mantra for the over 55 human mover is not to get hurt. An injury is tougher to recover from and can take longer to heal when we are older; this is why hiring a professional to be a guide, a teacher, and coach to help you safely reach your desired outcome is wise. Click here if you live in Scottsdale, AZ and want to work with a movement and exercise specialist.